Ingredient of the week: courgette

The humble courgette, aka the zucchini if you happen to be from across the pond or down under or the zuccina if you happen to be an Italian, is an easy to grow at home but wonderfully versatile veg.

This summer squash if left unpicked can become a monster – the marrow – but sadly loses most of its quirky flavour and turns watery – but a good pickle it can yet make.

The courgette lends itself incredibly well to the frying pan or the griddle. Best, though, has to be when it is shown the barbecue – becoming sweet and smoky on the outside and firm yet ever-so-slightly squishy on the inside. Dressed fresh from the coals with good olive oil, chopped fresh mint, salt, pepper and a tiny drizzle of vinegar they make a gorgeous barbecue side dish. Add a crumbled handful of feta and serve it on sourdough for a quick and delicious lunch.

Even better are the youngest courgettes – no more than a centimetre across and barely seven or eight long. Grill, olive oil, sea salt and you’re set. And don't forget the flowers - if you see these, snap them up. A labour of love, stuffed with a delicious filling and deep fried - but well worth the effort.

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